Swiss Authorities Pledge to Support Credit Suisse

Swiss National Bank (SNB) vowed to offer financial assistance to the beleaguered lender, whose shares slid to an all-time low Wednesday

Credit Suisse bank sign at global headquarters of Swiss bank in Zurich, Switzerland
Arnd Wiegmann / Getty Images

Switzerland’s central bank said Wednesday it’s ready to provide financial assistance to Credit Suisse Group, the nation’s second-largest lender, whose stock slid to all-time lows after the bank’s top shareholder indicated it wouldn’t invest further in the company.

In a joint statement with FINMA, the Swiss financial market regulator, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) said Credit Suisse met “the strict capital and liquidity requirements” imposed on systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) and “will provide CS with liquidity, if necessary.”

Shares of Credit Suisse (CS) slumped on Wednesday after the chair of Saudi National Bank, the bank's largest shareholder, said his firm would “absolutely not” increase its stake above the 9.9% it took last year. He cited “many reasons," including the regulatory burden under Swiss law once investments top 10%.

The Swiss lender’s American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) lost almost a third of their value on Wednesday, and its bonds were trading at distressed levels. The ADRs trimmed their decline to 14% after the announcement from Switzerland.

Word of the potential lifeline came as shares of big European banks tumbled today, fueled by worry that Credit Suisse may slide into insolvency in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and Signature Bank in the U.S. UBS Group (UBS), Deutsche Bank (DB), BNP Paribas (BNP), Banco Santander (SAN), Barclays (BCS) were among those whose shares tumbled to year-to-date lows.

Credit Suisse has struggled for years amid scandals, trading losses, and changes in management. Executives yesterday revealed "material weaknesses" in the firm’s 2021 and 2022 financial reporting, unveiling the information in an annual report that had been delayed by a query from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The lender said the SEC sought more information about the “technical assessment of previously disclosed revisions to the consolidated cash flow statements in the years ended Dec. 31, 2020 and 2019, as well as related controls.”

Swiss authorities downplayed the risk of contagion, saying that the problems at some American lenders don’t pose “a direct risk of contagion for the Swiss financial markets.” The U.S. Treasury Department is working with American and European regulators to investigate U.S. banks' exposure to Credit Suisse, Bloomberg reported.

CEO Ulrich Körner called for patience amid the uncertainty, saying his bank’s financial position is sound and that its problems aren’t comparable to the severe liquidity issues affecting smaller banks in the U.S.

Shares of Credit Suisse have lost about a third of their value in the past week and are 97% off their all-time highs from before the global financial crisis.

Credit Suisse (CS) 1-Month Return


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